Budget 2015: Govt aims to boost eHealth record uptake with opt-out model

The Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) will be renamed 'myHealth Record' and an opt-out model trialled, the government has announced.

Health minister Sussan Ley revealed that the government's budget, released tomorrow, will include $485 million for the eHealth record system.

Both headline changes to the system's rollout were included in a report commissioned by the government in 2013 .

The review was led by Richard Royle, executive director of the UnitingCare Health group in Queensland and vice-president of the Australian Private Hospitals Association.

The government made public the findings of the Royle report in May last year.

The report recommended that the opt-out model take effect from the start of 2015.

The new name for the electronic health record would reflect "a modern naming convention for digital service", the report argued.

"As the adoption and embrace of the digital age accelerates the need to differentiate between digital and physical sources is losing it’s [sic.] relevance," the report stated.

"In this modern world where technology makes information sharing boundless, there’s no excuse for Australia not to have a functioning national e-health system and that’s what the Abbott Government’s revamped myHealth Record aims to achieve," Ley said.

"Doctors have indicated they’re much more likely to use the system if all their patients have a record," Ley said, explaining her rationale for the shift to opt-out.

"We also need full coverage if we’re to cut down on inefficiencies created by not having one seamless records system, such as double ups with testing, prescriptions and other procedures."

The 38 recommendations contained in the Royle report included dissolving National Electronic Health Transition Authority (NeHTA) — the organisation that has overseen the rollout of the PCEHR — and replace it with the Australian Commission for Electronic Health (ACeH) reporting directly to the Standing Council on Health.

System operation of the MyHR should be centralised under the Department of Human Services, under contract from the ACeH, the report said.

The minister said that in line with the report, the ACeH will replace NeHTA from July next year.

PCEHR operations will be transferred from the Department of Health to ACeH, but e-health policy will remain the department's prerogative.

"These governance changes have been discussed with and are supported by states and territories, and will improve the accountability and transparency of arrangements," Ley said.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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